Below is Parks Canada response to the summary of discussions on our Boat Tour with David Britton, Director of Ontario Waterways. Ron Bailey, Ron Black ,Alan Easton, Howie Newhook and Jim Daly from Lakeview Estates plus myself attended. Your thoughts on the response would be appreciated.
Summary of Discussion with Parks Canada on lake Tour
Thank you for taking the lake tour with us. I thought it was time well spent as it clearly showed the infestation of planted rice is of major concern not only on southern Pigeon lake but also anywhere on the Trent Severn as it is James Whetung’s intent to plant anywhere he wishes ( i.e. Buckhorn, Chemong, Rice Lake etc.)
As promised I am forwarding a summary of our conversation. We discussed many issues but the one that raised an immediate concern was the fact that FN and PC, although making progress, has not reached the stage of establishing designated areas for rice harvesting. Without this action there will no resolution to the Wild Rice issue.
We expressed our willingness to work with Parks Canada in any way possible to assist in resolving this issue.
In case an agreement is made with the FN’s re designated rice harvesting areas, it raises other questions such as:
A. Who will be responsible for the removable of the planted rice in non designated rice areas.
B. Who will be responsible for maintenance of these areas to ensure they stay Rice free?
C. Will annual permits, to maintain these areas be required. (hopefully not, as we are not responsible for the proliferation of the planted rice.)
D. We do not feel the permit to cut rice should be part of the aquatic weed removal guidelines. The cutting of rice does not disturb other aquatic matter as we only cut one to three feet below the surface and the rice is planted, not natural vegetation.
E. Could consideration be given to an annual maintenance permit with no fee.
These are only a few of the concerns which will need to be addressed. It is our wish to be part of this process and we would like to work directly with Parks Canada in determining the right course of action.
We also discussed the following
1. What protection will be put in place to protect the users of the lake if no interim solution is forth coming before the harvesting season begins. We are concerned about the uncontrolled actions demonstrated by James Whetung and partner Michelle Fraser.
2. We suggested that based on our experience the minimum requirement for safe recreational use is 1200 ft. between the rice beds and the shorelines The minimum requirement would not be needed if the designated area for rice beds were placed along non populated shorelines as pointed out on our tour.
3. We need answers to the following;
a. Can anyone plant Wild Rice on Private deeded land?
( This is contrary to the harvesting guidelines) Can the offender be charged?
b. Did Parks Canada give permission to First Nations to reseed existing rice beds in
c. Did Parks Canada give permission to First Nations to plant new rice beds in
southern Pigeon Lake?
It is our understanding that there are no regulations covering the seeding and
harvesting of Wild Rice in Federal Waters; therefore, we are assuming we have the
right to do so. If we are not correct please advise where the regulations can be
David, thanks again for your efforts in trying to resolve the rice issue. It is our hope that
Parks Canada will take a stand on the issues outlined. We need leadership that will bring a fair settlement. If First Nations continue to stonewall the talks, we hope that Parks Canada will take a stand to develop a master plan that will ensure First Nations have designated rice stands in non populated areas and Canadians of all walks of life will be able to once again enjoy the waters of southern Pigeon Lake.
Looking forward to your response.
Spokesperson-Save Pigeon Lake Group
Response to the summary of discussions.
Thanks again for the opportunity to get out on the lake and to hear the perspectives from you and some of the other shoreline property owners. It was really useful for me to have that discussion on site where you can actually see the areas in question.
Thanks for your summary of our discussion. In terms of next steps, as I mentioned, we’re reaching the point on this file where we’ve had a thorough discussion with both WTFN and yourselves on the various perspectives on wild rice management on Pigeon Lake. Over the next several weeks we’ll be discussing the next steps on this file internally in Parks Canada. I appreciate you laying out the questions about potential approaches for rice removal, its valuable for us to know your perspectives on this and supports the discussions we’ll be having.
I also wanted to follow-up on a few other items we discussed:
With respect to the question about whether non-Indigenous people can harvest wild rice. The Historic Canals Regulations require a permit for the removals of any aquatic vegetation (other than for Indigenous Harvesting). In the past we have permits for non-Indigenous harvesting of wild rice, with a permit condition that limits the quantity to a max of 20 lbs. It has likely been a number of years since we’ve issued a permit of this nature and if we were to receive one now, given the current context, we would likely need to review the process.
On your question about the legalities of a non-Indigenous person seeding wild rice, this is something we are presently looking into.